What is Brain Tumor ?
Abnormal cell growth in the brain is brain tumor. They can be cancerous or non-cancerous in any case they still cause problems in the brain as the area is tough small. This growth can be life threatening and requires immediate treatment.
What is brain ?
The brain is composed of a mass of tissue closely protected by the bones of the skull. There are three layers in the brain. They are-
- The meninges- They form the thin layer of the tissue in the brain.
- Cerebrospinal fluid – It’s the watery fluid passes through the meninges and the ventricles.
- Ventricles- These are within the brain tissue.
The brain acts on the five sense organs and plays a pivotal role in the functioning of the body. A dead brain is as good as the body being dead too.
Types of brain tumors :
Brain tumors are mainly of two types. A primary brain tumor originates in in the brain while the secondary brain tumor is the one that originates elsewhere and spreads to the brain gradually. categorized as primary or secondary. The most common brain tumor are-
Symptoms of brain tumor :
Symptoms of brain tumors are area specific and also vary with the size. The tumors damage the brain and increase the pressure inside it causing noticeable symptoms.
The most common symptom is the headache that worsens in the morning, while you are coughing, sneezing or exercising.
Other common symptoms :
- Vision suffers.
- Seizures in adults
- Weakness in a part of the body
- Memory loss
- Finding it difficult to read and write the usual way
- Unable to hear, taste or smell
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Loss of balance
- Numbness on one side of the body
Causes and risk factors of brain tumor :
The causes for brain tumor are still unknown. There are certain risks that are proven to cause cancer. They are-
- Age : Age is beneficial factor for brain tumor and hence older people become a target to brain tumor.
- Family history : Brain tumor can also be hereditary. It has a genetic lenience. If your parents or siblings had encountered brain tumor then bring it to your doctors notice.
- Exposure to radiation : Exposure to high radiation cancer therapies can also be a root cause for brain tumor. Or if you have been exposed to ionizing radiation like the people in Fukushima you are susceptible to cancer.
- Chemical exposure : Exposure to harmful chemicals in the factories or in your work area etc. can also be a risk.
Tests and diagnosis for brain tumor :
A physical exam is conducted which includes a neurological examination. Your medical history is also analysed. The doctor will also check the status of your cranial nerves that originate in your brain. The doctor can see the state of the eyes with the help of an opthalmoscope. It is a device that sends light straight into your pupils and retinas.
The doctor will also check for your routine activities to see if you are able to do things normally such as:
- The Muscle strength
- Coordination and communication
- Memory is intact
- If you can do mathematical calculations without any confusion
Your doctor may order more tests that include :
- CT scan : A CT scan is preferred over X-ray as it captures vivid images. The contrast too can be increased or decreased. When a special dye is used the images like blood vessels, certain structures are even more clear.
- MRI of the head: With the help of the special dye the MRI is even more effective as it helps in detecting the tumor.
- Angiography : A dye is injected in the artery in the groin area which travels through the arteries and in to the brain. This test shows the blood supply inside the tumor.
- Brain scan: As the radioactive dye is sent into your veins the images of the brain are taken.
- Skull x-rays : This test detects the fractures or breaks in the skull of the brain.
- Biopsy : A neuropathologist will examine a piece of the suspected cancerous tissue collected from the biopsy test. The biopsy will determine if the tumor is cancerous or not and also shows the exact place from where the cancer has originated.
Treatment of brain tumors :
The treatment procedures are mostly given in combination with other procedures. Therefore a medical team comprised of doctors pertaining to different fields work together to understand and cure the disease.
The treatment is deviced considering certain factors which include :
- The type, stage and the extent of the tumor.
- If the tumor has created pressureinside the brain
- If the tumor has spread to other parts.
The tumors need not always grow rapidly. Hence, based on these factors a treatment plan is deviced. The treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
If the tumor is low grade and is small, the entire or a part of the tumor can be removed through surgery. The tissue sample taken for study helps in making other brain treatments effective. A neurosurgeon is a specialist who conducts surgery on the brain and the spinal area. A part of the skull too is removed during the surgery. This procedure is called craniotomy. After the removal of the skull, the patient’s bone is only used to cover the area.
Cortical mapping maps the region of the brain that controls movement, communication skills and senses.
Imaging devices allows the surgeon to plan a method and implement them successfully. Image guided surgery is one such device that exactly pin points the location of the tumor. Biopsy is one procedure that is very accurate and also helps in planning the next treatment procedure.
Some tumors cannot be operated upon for various reasons such as if it is located somewhere close to a place that’s significant and might damage that area while conducting a surgery. In such cases the doctor will guide you accordingly on what best suits you.
Radiation therapy :
It uses high energy radiation or some particles to kill the cancer cells. It’s also given to decrease the speed of the growing tumor. This method is adopted after a surgical procedure. Chemotherapy is also adviced for the patient. .The external Beam Radiation is a radiation treatment given outside the body and is found to be the most common treatment for patients with tumor.
In this procedure drugs are adviced for a specific number of cycles for a specific time period. These drugs prevent the cancer cells from dividing and growing and also kills the existing cancer cells. It is either used as an additional treatment after surgery to basically improve the symptoms or check any cancer growth. It is given by a medical oncologist.
Getting care and support :
There are other issues that a cancer patient goes through. It’s a very stressful phase for the patient as it will drain his finances; pull him down emotionally and physically. He may get into a phase of depression knowing that it can kill him and causing anxiety bouts. This stress will affect his treatment.
There are support groups who provide all the care you need before and after the treatment. There are people who will assist you and put you in touch with people who can connect and lift your morale and spirits. The support you get during this period is called as palliative care or supportive care which will attend to the patients’ physical, emotional and social needs. Palliative care is a treatment given to reduce symptoms, improve the quality of life irrespective of what age the patient is, the stage of cancer etc. Palliative care is given to every patient and his immediate family. It is found to be very effective when given along with the treatment procedures. Hence this treatment should be started when initially as it helps the overall being of the patient.
Prevention of brain tumors :
There is no way to prevent the tumor from appearing. But you cannot avoid it if it is a secondary cancer. However there are certain risks that may eventually lead to cancer. They are:
- HIV infections
- Radiations given in the head region
- Toxins in the environment
The reasons for the primary brain cancers are still unknown. Hence, the measures that could have been taken to prevent a primary cancer are also very uncertain.
Why choose KIMS ?
KIMS Hospital at Kondapur and Secunderabad is the best hospital in Hyderabad for the treatment of Brain Cancer. India’s topmost brain cancer specialists and brain cancer surgeons work around the clock to offer radiation, chemotherapy and all forms of treatment for Brain tumors and brain cancers.